2021 has been an eventful year for women across the globe. The global institutions and leaders across the globe have taken decisive actions in the year by delegating resources to work towards empowering women and promoting gender equality. As the year comes to an end, let us recap the five good news in 2021 for women empowerment across the globe.
Issuance of gender bonds for women empowerment
The issuance of gender bonds to support and empower women has been going on since the year 2013, however, it has never been as popular as it has been in this year. In 2021, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) became one of the first public development banks to issue a gender bond to promote women’s empowerment and education and ensure gender equality in developing nations. The government-supported non-profit aid organisation has successfully raised nearly $181 million in this manner. The bonds have maturities ranging from 10 to 20 years to support initiatives in areas where women do not have equal access to education, employment, or political participation.
Earlier in the month of February of 2021, the Asian Development Bank raised about $20 million from the first gender bond issued in Kazakhstan. Proceeds of the bond is aimed at helping finance the Promoting Gender Equality in Housing Finance Project that aims to expand the lending operations of the Housing and Construction Savings Bank of Kazakhstan (Otbasy Bank) and promote affordable residential mortgage loans for women borrowers in largely rural areas.
Several organisations in Mexico have also engaged in the issuance of gender bonds to address women empowerment in the country.
Leaders from Across the Globe Pledged $40 billion to Promote Gender Equality
At an international meeting in Paris, world leaders, philanthropists, and organizations offered at least $40 billion to promote gender equality, as women and girls around the world have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s effects.
The list of donors includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that has committed to invest $2.1 billion in health and family planning programs, economic empowerment projects, and other efforts over the next five years. The Ford Foundation has pledged a $420 million fund to combat COVID-19’s risks to women’s rights. The World Bank has agreed to support projects in 12 African countries.
Interweave Collaborated with UN Women to Apply Women Empowerment Principles to Corporates in India
Diversity consulting organisation Interweave partnered with UN Women to enable corporates to implement Women’s Empowerment Principles in India. Established by UN Women and UN Global Compact in 2010, the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) provide a value chain approach to women’s empowerment through a set of 7 principles offering practical guidance to businesses on promoting gender equality. Each principle addresses an area of the value chain across the workplace, marketplace and community. This effort is being funded by the European Union under the regional WeEmpower Asia Programme.
As a part of this initiative, Interweave Consulting will now provide technical support to corporates to implement these principles ranging from establishing high-level leadership commitment for gender equality to fair work practices that include equal access to opportunities.
India has committed to cooperating with G20 Countries to Promote Gender Equality
Earlier in the year, Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani announced that India has committed to addressing gender and women-centric issues through mutual cooperation with the G20 group of countries. Irani formally joined the ‘Gender Equality Ministers of the G20’ in committing to promoting gender equality and empowerment of women through cooperation and coordination at all relevant fora.
WHO pledged Extensive Commitment towards Women Empowerment and Health
The World Health Organization announced multiple commitments to drive change for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity. Recognizing the health sector has an important role to play in preventing and responding to gender-based violence against women and girls, WHO committed to:
– Increasing the number of countries with clinical protocols focusing on a comprehensive, survivor-centred, empathetic health response for women and girls subjected to violence;
– Working with partners to scale up evidence-based prevention of violence against women and girls in 25 countries with high prevalence, guided by the RESPECT framework;
– Developing and supporting the uptake by health providers, policymakers and managers of a training course on health responses to violence against women and girls through the WHO Academy;
– Establishing a comprehensive database to monitor implementation of the Global Action Plan and regularly publishing prevalence estimates from the Global Database;
– Working with sister UN agencies to scale up the availability of essential, multi-sectoral and survivor-centred services with functional referral mechanisms, for women and girls in all their diversity, in at least 25 high prevalence countries;
– Supporting the implementation of the Global Plan of Action on health systems’ response to violence against women and girls.
Additionally, WHO also committed to investing in the evidence base for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including delivering comprehensive sexuality education outside school settings; improving access to quality and rights-based family planning in 14 middle-income countries; supporting 25 countries in increasing adolescents’ access to and use of contraception; disseminating updated guidelines on safe abortion; and building knowledge among adolescents of their entitlements and ability to advocate for their needs.
Together with UNFPA and UNICEF, WHO committed to working to end harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriages.